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Why you should start thinking about the end of your career now

It’s hard to think about the end of your career, especially if it’s just beginning. But doing so will reinvigorate your career search and help you build a career that matters. Here are three reasons why it’s important to start thinking about the end of your career now:

1. It helps you see that careers are a long-term game. 

While you can’t plan for everything nor anticipate how life may change, it’s important to think about the impact you want to have and set goals for yourself. Otherwise, how will you know if you were successful? Shari Austin, VP of Corporate Citizenship at RBC reminds us that “careers are built ‘brick by brick’” and that it’s the collection of our experiences and accomplishments that ultimately define our careers.

2. It will make you less afraid of making a mistake.

It’s not uncommon to be uncertain about what you want to do or have fears about making a wrong decision. But when you approach your career as a series of building blocks, rather than a straight path, it makes you realize that each job and experience will help make and shape who you are. As Chip and Dan Heath say in their book Decisive, “decisions in life are commas, not periods”. Stop searching for the next job, rather seek out the experiences that build towards the future you want to have.

3. It will help you live in the present.

Thinking about what you want your career legacy to be will help you live in the moment. Steve Jobs used to think about death to help make big decisions. He would ask himself, “if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” if the answer was no too often, he knew something needed to change.

Because ‘if you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there.’ And for impact jobs, it’s not just about where you want to go, but how you get there. So go on, build a career that matters.



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Joanna Reynolds. Associate Director. MaRS Centre for Impact Investing

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